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[Page 58]

Independent Crown Land (cont.)

He began his literary activity in “Kochbei Jitzchak,” where in 1865 to 1867 he translated the story Marriages by Leo Herzberg Fraenkel into Hebrew.

He wrote narrations, novels, correspondence in “Hamaggid,” and “Hamewasser.”

He played the main roll in the affair of Reb Beriniu.

The Chasidim saw in him, the cause of the sins that Beb Beriniu committed while he was staying in Dr. Reitmann's house.

They blamed him for leading Reb Beriniu down the false path.

He published a scientific fortnightly magazine which appeared in Iasi from 1878 to 1879 as well as a Hebrew weekly periodical, “Hamizpeh” (1881), which was printed in Chernivtsi and then in Bucharest.

In 1894 working in Chernivtsi, he edited a scientific literary monthly periodical, “Haschachar hechadasch,” of which only two editions appeared in Krakow.

He never had much luck with his publications although Ornstein wielded a slashing pen and was skilled in literature.

His essay “Oroth Meofel,” (about the Leovaer tragedy) appeared in Silberbusch's monthly publication, “Haor” (Lemberg 1882-1883), his stories “Hagolem, (“Haschachar” IX, p. 366-374), “Hasatan bjom hakipurim” (Haschachar IX, p 486-502), in which he used the story of R. Beriniu as material and berated the “wonder rabbis,” his books: “Toldoth haamim” (Vienna, 1879, “Toldoth Gojej Jmej Kedem”: About Egypt (Haschachar, Jhrg. X, XII) and about Assyria and Babylon in “Ozar Hasifruth” (Bd II), “Isch chamudoth,” Stories (Lemberg 1888) and Hoge deoth” ( Bible research) found great success in Maskilim circles.

Ornstein, who for a time was a teacher at the main Jewish school in Chernivtsi and then the leader of the Jewish schools in Bacau and Budoj and finally was active in Ploiesti raised a whole generation in the spirit of radical assimilation Haskala ideas because in the Hebrew speech and culture, he saw only a bridge to German speech and culture.

In the years 1886 to 1889, he lived in Lemberg. He spent the last years of his life in Chernivtsi where he died on November 3, 1906.

One of the leaders of the Chernivtsi Maskilim was Matitjahu Simche Rabener.

Born in Lemberg on January 23, 1826, he was raised in a strict Jewish tradition in the house of his father, R. Leib Bojberker and his mother Jente, from the old aristocratic family Menkes.

A student of the rabbi Jakob Ornstein, he enjoyed the reputation of a jluj [PP] . But early as his 15thyear, he learned foreign languages, Hebrew grammar and wrote Hebrew poetry which his friend R. Mendil Stern (1811-1871) published in 1845 in the first volume of his magazine “Kochbei Jitzchak58.”

Rabener studied philosophy, oriental languages and music at the university in Lemberg. In 1848, he married a woman who lived in Rawa Ruska. In Rawa Ruska he became friends with the writer Abraham Goldberg and visited Nachman Krochmal in Zolkiew, the Maskilim in the surrounding region and Simson Bloch in Kulikow.

Rabener, who dedicated himself to business lost in 1855 his entire fortune and moved to Narajow where he became secretary to a rich businessman.

In 1860, his uncle rabbi Dr. Igel, called him to Chernivtsi to be a teacher. Here he
was a leader in Maskilim circles, where he was prized as a poet. He published in addition to his Hebrew grammar, “Luach Halew,” a collection of poetry, “Eth-Hasamir,” which contained a Hebrew translation of Schiller's poetry.

In 1862, appeared a translation of Lord Byron's poetry with the title, “Neimoth Eber.”

In 1865, he moved to Suceava where he was appointed as sermonizer and religion teacher at the gymnasium. Here he published a sermon titled “Cyrus and Franz Joseph I.”

In 1867, he was appointed school principal and sermonizer in Falticeni and in 1869 he was called as school principal and sermonizer to Iasi where he remained until 1886.

In Iasi, he published the quarter yearly magazine, “Simrath Haartez,” of which two editions appeared. These issues dealt mainly with issues of religion and education.
Rabener was not an original poet. What he published was mainly translations from German literature (mainly poems from Schiller).

In addition, he published essays and poems in “Hamewasser,” “Ozar Chochmah,” “Haeth,” and “Hamagid.”

He also wrote a German drama, “Sulamith,” which really was a dramatization of “Schir Haschirim.”

During his stay in Chernivtsi, in addition to the Maskilim, Abraham Goldfaden, who published a Jewish weekly, which however only appeared for a short time also lived there. During this period, Welwel Zbarazer-Ehrenkranz and David Isaiah Silberbusch also lived there.

Under the influence of Welwel Zbarazer, who translated the ideas of the Haskala into satirical Yiddish songs that he sung in bars, the common people began to appreciate these ideas and the Yiddish language.

The book dealer Jehoschua Widmann and the brother of Welwel Zbarazer, Meir Ehrenkranz also were part of the Maskilim circle in Chernivtsi.

Widmann, who was born on January 14, 1840 in Nadworna and who died on February 20 1917 in Chernivtsi, founded the first Jewish book store in Chernivtsi.

He was a lover of the Hebrew style and in 1881, edited a collection of letters which were written in a flamboyant style.

Meir Ehrenkranz was a teacher of the Hebrew language from 1871 to 1875 in Chernivtsi and in 1878 published a small book of Hebrew satirical works59.

An exception in this group was David Apotheker (1855-1911) from Lithuania, a student of Moses Leib Lillenblum, who in 1877 as a student in the Kiewer University joined the revolutionary movement and in 1879 was sentenced to exile because he was a Nihilist. He succeeded in fleeing to Austria where he settled in Chernivtsi. Here he opened a book store. In 1881, he published a collection of ten folk songs in Yiddish and Hebrew (the Lyre) along with music which had a socialistic tone, but had no poetic value. Here, he also wrote under the pseudonym “Leibisch Chussid” a satire titled “Schulchan Aruch Hilchoth Tikun.”

In 1888, he went to America where he unsuccessfully tried to found a communist colony. He then published a satirical humorous periodical.

The cultural life of the Jewish intelligentsia who received their education in German schools and universities was strongly influenced by the advancing Europeanization.

Out of these circles came Jewish writers, who had no spiritual or language connection with Jewish culture. They produced the works of their intellect in the German speech.

One of the first German writing authors was Moritz Amster who came from an old established Chernivtsi family.

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Born in Chernivtsi on February 13, 1831, he studied in public schools and then was a banker and landlord into his seventies. Already as a young man he wrote in German for the Jewish weeklies. He sent interesting letters on the “Jewish condition” in Galicia and Bukovina to the Allgemeinen Zeitung des Judentums and the Wiener Blaetter.

In the seventies, he moved to Vienna where he worked as secretary for the Free Masons Lodge and as editor of their house organ, “The Compass.” He was also actively writing, publishing poems and essays in Baeuerle's “Theater Newspaper,” “Wiener Mirror of Fashion,” and “Homeland.” In 1875, in honor of the opening of the university in Chernivtsi, he published an anthology called “A Book of Poetic Memories.”

The writer and story teller, Karl Emil Franzos (1848-1904) is closely associated with Chernivtsi.

His father who was first a military doctor and then the district doctor in Czortkow was fully assimilated and gave him no Jewish education, but implanted a special love for all things German. He attended the elementary school in Czortkow which was run by the Dominicans and then the father sent him to the German high school in Chernivtsi.

At the age of 14, he lost his father and had to earn his living with hourly work. After he graduated, he studied from 1867 to 1872 in Vienna and Graz Jura and took active part in student life and represented the Vienna students at the Berlin Kartell congress.

After finishing his university studies, he decided to dedicate himself to writing.

From 1872 to 1876, he traveled in Central Europe, Russia, Turkey and Egypt. From 1882 to 1885 he edited the “New Illustrated Newspaper” in Vienna. He then moved to Berlin where he founded the semimonthly magazine, “German Poetry” which he edited until his death in n1904.

In his literary efforts like Leopold Kompert, he described with a sharp gift of observation, the Galician-Ruthenian [QQ] and Jewish milieu but with the critical eye of an already assimilated enlightened Jew who sacrificed Judaism for general humanity and education. In his novels and stories, he preached the necessity for the Westernization of the Jews and giving up of fanaticism and ignorance.

His descriptions of the milieu and the exotic of Eastern European Judaism were extremely griping and colorful. Although he felt he was a German, he got very close to the Eastern European Jews that he became acquainted with in Chernivtsi and Czortkow.

As a recorder of customs and culture, who thought that the lands of Galicia, Bukovina and Romania had only a thin veneer of culture, he gained a great name in German literature.

The youth who were educated in public schools, found themselves drawn to German culture and separated themselves from the spirit of Judaism and the Hebrew language.

They saw their ideal in liberal German culture. It was no wonder that the Jewish intelligentsia for two decades were the primary supporters of German science60, literature60aand media60bin Bukovina.

The constitutional freedom after 1867 created among Jews the dream of an ascendance into a shining “Germandom” and that cult of German literature as described by Franzos in his novel, “Schiller in Barnow.”

Only when the great disappointment came did they find their way back to Judaism.

-5-

Jews in politics and the beginning of Zionism

Since the sixties of the XIX century, the Jews became ever more involved and entrenched in the political life of Bukovina.

With the help of the Jews the country that was really Romanian and Ruthenian, became “Germanized,” because they used German as their everyday speech.

They also cooperated politically with the Germans, who in these decades were still liberally oriented.

Even from a business-social viewpoint, the Jews were the chief supporters of the German elements.

The Businessmen's Progress Organization in Chernivtsi supported in addition to business interests, a common political platform for the Jews and Germans61.

This close cooperation, nourished the assimilations process even more. So far in fact that in 1882 in Zurich an anonymous writer published an essay called, “We Jews, observations and suggestions of a Bukovina Jew” in which he suggested that complete assimilation with other races was the only way to wipe out anti-Semitism62.

Rabbi Dr. Igel is probably the only one who tried to lift Jewish self confidence and to nurture and preserve Jewish cultural values.

He used the opportunity of the visit of the visit of the Hebrew author and speaker for the National Jewish Movement, Perez Smolenskin, who visited Romania in 1874 for the Movement and who stopped in Chernivtsi to suggest to Smoleskin that he found a Jewish Institution of higher learning in Chernivtsi which would have the goal of instilling the spirit of Judaism in teachers and rabbis.

Smolenskin himself thought about founding a Jewish high school in which the Hebrew language and Jewish disciplines would be taught.

Out of all this, however came nothing.

Also Dr. Igel's successor as chief rabbi, Dr. Josef Rosenfeld (1858-1922) tried to lift the level of Jewish consciousness.

Dr. Rosenfeld, born in Neustadtl, Hungary, enjoyed a strict Jewish upbringing and a talmudic education. He then studied in Berlin where he got his Rabbi's diploma and in Leipzig where he earned the Doctorate of Philosophy in 1883. He was an important Sermonizer and after the end of his studies served as rabbi (1886-1893) in Orozhaza (Hungary). From there he was called to Hamburg-Altona as Rabbi and Sermonizer, but as a non citizen was only provisionally hired.

Several very influential German rabbis secretly conducted a successful campaign to prevent him from obtaining German citizenship.

Resigned to his fate, Dr. Rosenfeld in 1893, accepted the call to Chernivtsi where he quickly accepted and enjoyed success as a sermonizer and educator.

As early as 1861, the year in which the first Regional Parliament was to sit, with full approval of the Germans, the Jewish vice mayor, Dr. Josef Fechner was chosen as representative of the city in the Regional Parliament for the term 1861-1867.

There was some Jews in the Constitutional party which was really the political organization of the liberal Germans. One of these was Jakob Kohn who as successor to Dr. Fechner was chosen as a candidate and elected in 1874.

Because of their position in trade and commerce and in the town of Chernivtsi, it was accepted that the Jews would have representatives in the Regional Parliament as well as the Reichsrat, not as Jews, but as members of the Constitutional party and later the Liberal club, the “German Austrian clubs,” the Free German Association and this situation continued until 1897.

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The following Jewish representatives were elected by the chamber of commerce and the city to sit in the Regional Parliament:

-1874      Dr. Josef Fecher as representative of the city.
-1863      Isak Rubinstein as representative of the Chamber of Commerce.
-1871      Dr. Hermann Peras
-1877      Leibuka Barber
-1898      Jakob Kohn
-1901      David Tittinger
-1903      Josef Steiner
-1914      Wilhelm Tittinger
-1914      Dr. Benno Straucher
In the regional commission which had 8 members, the following Jews sat:
-1867      Dr. Josef Fechner
-1910      Dr. Benno Straucher
-1914      Dr. Neumann Wender
The following were elected to the Vienna Reichsrat
-1878      Isak Rubinstein
-1879      Heinrich Wagner, elected from the Chamber of Commerce.
-1885      Heinrich Wagner, elected from the Chamber of Commerce.
Since 1885 two Jewish representatives served in the period 1885-1891, Heinrich Wagner elected by the city and Heinrich Popper elected by the Chamber of Commerce.

1891-1896 Heinrich Popper elected by the Chamber of Commerce died in 1896 and was succeeded by David Tittinger.

1891-1896 Heinrich Wagner from the city of Chernivtsi.

1897-1900 David Tittinger from the Chamber of Commerce, member of the Free German Federation.

1897-1900 Dr. Benno Straucher from the city who turned the politics of Bukovina upside-down by ceasing the cooperation with the Germans and declaring an independent Jewish politics and as such, elected to the city court. In parliament he was an independent

1901-1906 Leon Rosenzweig from the Chamber of Commerce, member of the German Progress party, Dr. Benno Straucher from the city, Jewish National party, independent.

With Dr. Benno Straucher's election in the Jewish community began a new chapter in the Jewish politics of Bukovina.

He began his career as a German Liberal fighting the Jewish Oligarchy as a representative of the “little man.”

Straucher swayed from the German Liberal path, when in 1891, he ran against Heinrich Wagner in the Reichsrat and lost.

In 1897, he was elected when running against Kochanowski, the mayor of Chernivtsi.

At this time Straucher was the only politician who had the courage to take up the fight against the Jewish Oligarchy.”

Born in 1854 in the village Rohozna near Sadagura, he came from an old established family which already at the beginning of the XIX century was active in the leadership of the Jewish community. After finishing his law studies in the Chernivtsi university he settled down in Chernivtsi as an attorney.

Like other Jews with an academic education, Straucher associated himself with the Jewish liberal circle which cooperated with the Germans.

He had a strong rebellious nature and associated himself with the common people. Straucher couldn't tolerate the Oligarch local Jewish families who considered themselves patricians and began a battle against them. Without having any clear political agenda, he operated merely with the slogan, “The interests of the little man.”

Because of his interaction with the ordinary people, he saw that the Jews were a people whose interests in no way coincided with those of the Germans.

Gradually his orientation became Jewish National and in 1906 he accepted the political program of the Zionist conference in Cracow and officially joined the Zionist organization.

The fight he took up in the eighties had contributed greatly to the nationalist awareness of the Jews in Bukovina.

He represented Jewish interests in the Regional Parliament and the Reichsrat and met with courage the attacks of the anti-Semites and fought the Judenpolitic in Romania and Russia and demanded in addition to full political and citizens rights the fulfillment of the national cultural needs of the Jews in Austria.

It can't be denied that Dr. Straucher influenced by the Zionist movement which blossomed in the ninety's took a Jewish national direction in his politics.

Straucher and his followers were successful in the Chernivtsi city council in making 20 of the 50 city council statutes, known as “Straucher's list” serve their purposes. Thanks to this position, one of Straucher's fellow party members, Dr. Eduard Reiss was mayor of Chernivtsi from 1905 to 1908.

In the Chamber of Commerce, 90% of the seats were in Jewish hands.

The first messengers of the Zionist ideals were students who studied at the university in Vienna and had come in contact with the already existing Vienna Zionist movement led by Dr. Birnbaum.

Jewish students from Bukovina were members of the first academic Zionist organization, “Kadimah,” in Vienna. When they went home during vacation, they were the first heralds of the Zionist ideology.

Under their influence, young gymnasium students became Jewish nationalist oriented.

Already in 1886, the gymnasium student Josef Bierer, a son of Dr. Reuben Bierer had propagated the Jewish nationalism idea among his colleagues and allied with professor David Mader and Isak Schmierer inspired the founding of a Jewish national citizens organization called the “Jewish Reading Room.”

The founding was successful, but the Jewish nationalist feeling gradually faded.

Later attempts to call a Jewish nationalistic academic connection to life, failed twice because of the desertion of many members64.

The group of gymnasium students stayed together, studied Jewish history and “Self Emancipation” edited by Dr. Natan Birnbaum became their spiritual guide.

The leaders of these gymnasium students were Isak Schmierer and Mayer Ebner.

This group listened to lectures on Jewish problems. Schmierer spoke on “The Meaning of Jewish Nationalism,” Jakob Kommer about “ The Relation of Lessings to the Jews,” Philipp Menczel about “The Cultural Historical Mission of Judaism,” Mayer Ebner “About the Spirit of Hebrew Poetry,” and Schmierer over “The Colonization of Palistine65.”

In addition, there were regular lectures for the Gymnasium students66and national celebrations took place (Makkabaeer-Tische-b'Aw-Trauerfeiern [RR] ) at which Moses Igel, son of the chief rabbi Dr. Igel, Phillipp Menczel and Ebner spoke.

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Slowly, the national Jewish idea spread to the ordinary Jewish people.

In 1890 in Chernivtsi, during the Fall holidays propaganda was spread and money was collected for the colonization of Palestine.

Chief rabbi Dr. Igel, who for years had sympathized with the Chibath-Zion movement and who remained in contact with the Zionist organization of his hometown, Lemberg, held a Jewish national sermon in the synagogue against which the orthodox rabbi Benjamin Weiss, spoke out67.

Yes, because of the special machinations of Rabbi Benjamin Weiss, according to a letter from Chernivtsi, people in the synagogues and prayer houses were opposed to such contributions.

In spite of two failed attempts, Isak Schmierer and Philipp Menzzel, who were students at Chernivtsi University, Dr. Igel's two sons and Siegmund Neuberger and Josef Bierer who were both medical students in Vienna and were members of the Kadimah, decided to establish a fraternity similar to Kadimah in Chernivtsi. The group of gymnasium students led by Mayer Ebner allied themselves with the effort and declared they were ready to join the fraternity after they graduated.

After thorough consultation, on July 14, 1891 the first Zionist academic fraternity in Bukovina, “Hasmonaea” was founded.

Dr. Birnbaum spoke out against Hasmonaea in the Self Emancipation because it aped the German “Burschenschaften [SS] .” Dr. Bierer answered the charges in the name of Hasmonaea and justified its Burschenschaften like character. This reply didn't satisfy Dr. Birmbaum who said, “clean yourselves of the fraternity colors.”

In May of 1892, Dr. Birnbaum visited Chernivtsi to help in the formation of local branches of the Austrian Palestine colonization organization, Zion. He spoke in gatherings and as a result of his speeches a colonization organization called “Admath Jeschurun” was founded in Chernivtsi. Jakob Kindler was elected70aas president of the provisional committee,.

Also in Radauti, an organization “Ahawath Zion” was established, led by Rabbi Isak Kunstadt71as president, religion teacher Simon Schapira and Eisig Grabscheid as vice presidents and Josef Kaswan as secretary72.

The movement found a supporter here in the person of religion teacher, D. Feldman who was a nationalistic Jew73.

Self Emancipation had two confidential people, Leon Koenig in Chernivtsi and Simon Schapira in Radauti.

Hasmonaea opened the fight against assimilation with the Germans with an appeal written by Mayer Ebner, “Against Jewish Assimilation73a.”

The weekly periodical, “The Jewish Echo” founded in 1894 by Dr. Menczel advocated the cause of Zionism which gradually penetrated further layers of society.

The political situation, the collapse of the Liberal Party and the rise of the Christian Social Party as well as the anti-Semitic German national feeling which ruled the German middle classes and the German farmers in the pure Swabian villages gradually opened the eyes of the Jews and made clear to them that the Germans did not like the Jews who they could thank for the Germanization of the country.

The Zionist organizations called into life in Chernivtsi by the initiative of Hasmonaea under the leadership of Efraim Melzer and with help from Selig Wagschal and in Radauti, Suceava Frumosul and Siret already had a respectable number of members who spread the Jewish national idea to the masses. However, it was still no a great movement of the people.

Only with the publication of Herzl's “The Jewish State” and the first Zionist Congress in Basel which three Bukovina delegates, Dr. Mayer Ebner, Dr. Isak Sehmierer and Dr. Leo Picker attended, did a change come about in the Zionist movement in Bukovina.

The amazing growth of the Zionist movement is reported as follows by the Bukovina Rundschau:

That Zionism in a short time has become a true Jewish people's movement is shown by the fact that Zionist organizations are appearing in the smallest Jewish communities and this growth is mainly driven by the activity of the central organization in Chernivtsi78.

The Bukovina lawyer, Dr. Heinrich Kiesler published a paper against Zionism entitled, “Judaism and Modern Zionism (Vienna 1897)” in which he explained that Zion according to the Zionists would be a land for the Jews in which they would be isolated from all other people. According to Dr. Kiesler, the Jews were not a nation.

Later, Dr. Kiesler pleaded for political cooperation with the Romanians.

In 1899, there were already ten Zionist organizations.

During the disputes between the Galician Zionists about the formation of the Galician colony “Machnajim” in Eretz Israel, the followers of Herzel in East Galicia under the leadership of Dr. Salomon Rosenheck and Loebl Taubes decided to establish a common organization with the Bukovina Zionists.

But this plan didn't come to realization.

At the conference of the Austrian Zionists in Olmuetz (1901) it was decided to create a special district committee for Bukovina.

Shortly later in 1902, the first Zionist delegation meeting took place in Suceava at which Siegmund Weissglass was elected as president of the Regional Organization of Estate Owners in Zastavna, an office that he held until 1910.

The District Committee was successful in consolidating the Zionist organization.

In the light of the Reichsrat election in 1901, the Zionist movement had to decide if they wanted to become involved in regional politics.

The attitude of the Bukovina Germans forced the Jews to make a decision for it was clear that they absolutely couldn't cooperate with them.

By the same token, they couldn't and wouldn't become an appendage of the Romanian or Ruthenian parties.

As a result, there was only one way, that of the independent national politics, if the Jews wanted to make use of their political rights.

In May 1900, Dr. Theodor Herzl in connection with the upcoming parliamentary elections invited Dr. Ebner, Dr. Menczel and Dr. Bierer to a meeting of the Selected Action Committee for discussion of the political situation in Bukovina. All three held the view that the Zionists should stick to the task that concerned them and not mix in politics.

In the Selected Action Committee session of November 6, 1900 the above named gave a report on the preparatory work. Dr. Menczel suggested that they choose Rabbi Weiss as a candidate for the Reichsrat. Dr. Ebner was opposed because he didn't believe they could depend on Rabbi Weiss's party loyalty.

It was decided not to choose a Zionist candidate, but to support Dr. Straucher.

The leading circle of Zionist Intelligentsia in Bukovina as well as in Galicia where the Jews lived in their own communities and therefore were a political force came to the conclusion that a Jewish “Realpolitik” [TT] was necessary.

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Dr. Mayer Ebner discussed this question in the “World” in light of the series of articles by Dr. Nordau in Dr. Nordau took the standpoint that Romanian Jews shouldn't fight for equality because politics in general and Jewish regional politics in particular would be dangerous for the Jews.

Dr. Philipp Menczel expressed a similar viewpoint with the justification that Zionism was Jewish national and Realpolitik. One could carry on social politics, but no regional politics, this should only be done in the framework of non-Jewish parties.

Dr. Ebner on the other hand, supported the present work in the framework of the Zionist movement. Jewish Realpolitik was a necessity which would also be bear fruit for the Jewish spirit and self esteem and would therefore help the Zionist cause.

Dr. Ebner's viewpoint was supported by the majority of the Zionists.

The Zionist movement became the driving force for positive sense of Jewish national identity in Bukovina and educated the Jewish population about realpolitik.

In 1905 Poale-Zion under the leadership of Schaul Leib Steinmetz, Berl Locker, Meir Rosner, Saul Sokal and Meir Teich started a multi-branched propaganda program.

The Jews who immigrated from Russia in 1903-1904 brought new impulses to the Jewish masses and awoke great interest for Jewish problems.

With them came numerous Hebrew teachers who opened Hebrew kindergartens, schools and courses.

The Zionist movement took an upturn in the years 1905-1906 thanks to the activity of Professor Dr. Leon Kellner who received the “Ordinariat der Katheder fuer Anglistik” at the Chernivtsi university as well as Loebel Taubes who published the Jewish Weekly Paper and accomplished great service as a popular speaker for the Zionist organizations.

In addition to Hasmonaea, three more Zionist university fraternities, “Hebronia” “Emunah,” and “Zephira.” were formed.

In spite of the growth of the Zionist movement, the Jewish education of youth was sadly neglected.

The children of traditional parents received their education in the outmoded Chedars [UU] and Talmud-Torahs. In the Jewish community school in Chernivtsi and in the Baron Hirsch school in Sadagura Hebrew was taught in very few classes and in a very narrow way. Instruction in religion was just as lacking in the public elementary and middle schools.

A number of parents had their children take private Hebrew lessons with teachers who had immigrated from Russia or Galicia.

In certain Zionist circles, Hebrew speech courses were instituted, which however usually didn't last long.

Hebrew schools were successful only in Dorna-Kandreny, Kimpolung, Waschkoutz and Storozhinets and later also in Wiznitz, Sadagura and Chernivtsi.

In 1911 in Lemberg, “Jom Haiwrim” took place.

Because of the influence of this seminar and Dr. Schmarjahu Lewin's lecture tour, people began to consider the problem of Hebrew education more seriously.

The almost hopeless situation of the Hebrew movement, caused the more serious Zionist groups in 1913 to form a special Hebrew organization, “Safah iwria.” which was supposed to establish Hebrew courses and schools.

In most provincial cities, courses were given and there were even Hebrews schools, which however, were built on a weak foundation.

Safah iwria had to break off its activities because of the war and renewed them with success in 1918 under the leadership of Dr. Josef Bierer

Dr. Natan Birnbaum's move to Chernivtsi (1907), started a brisk Yiddish cultural activity among the Jewish intelligentsia. The academic association “Jewish Culture for Yiddish” was founded and at the end of August 1908 and under the leadership of Dr. Birnbaum, the Yiddish Speech Seminar at which the most well known Yiddish writers, J.L. Perez, Schalom Asch, and D. H. Nomschiedener, took political positions, proclaimed the Yiddish language as the national language of the Jewish people and laid the foundation for the Yiddish speech movement.

In Chernivtsi in 1908, Dr. Birnbaum published a weekly paper in Yiddish and in 1910, he brought out “The People.” In 1909, in order to promote Yiddish theater, Dr. Birnbaum founded the “Jewish Theater Society.” And in 1910 together with Loebl Taubes during the census, he lead an active campaign for Yiddish as an every day language.

In 1910 the Zionist convention elected new leaders with Professor Dr. Leon Kellner as president and Dr. Mayer Ebner and Loebl Taubes as vice presidents at the helm.

In addition to pure Zionist work, the new leadership was faced with important tasks in regional politics.

Prof. Dr. Kellner proclaimed the founding of the “Jewish Peoples Council,” patterned after the German Peoples Council in Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesian which as a political party was to lead Jewish regional politics. In addition to the common concerns of the Bukovina Jews, the party was to represent the Jews in internal politics, external politics and especially in relations with the other regions and raise the cultural, political and commercial level.

The program of the People's Council which was to consist of 36 representatives was promotion of farming, trade, commerce, industry, discouraging vagabonds, founding of a commercial bank providing free working permits, starting industrial undertakings on a cooperative basis, establishing loan societies for business men. For cultural needs: founding of kindergartens and day care centers, apprentice homes, lecture halls, free libraries. Politically, the program was interested in assuring equal rights for Jews and assuring that Jews have a proportionate representation in the law making bodies.

In January, 1911 the first issue of the Council's newsletter appeared under the title, “People's Council.”

Above all, the People's Council differed with Dr. Benno Straucher because of his autocratic system in the Jewish community.

A direct cause for an open battle with Straucher was his disloyal behavior to his colleagues in the Jewish Parliament club, further, his cloudy position on the question of the recognition of the Jewish nationality at the universities after the census of 1910.

The gap widened and took every more extreme forms when the Zionistic student organization attacked him in the Jewish National House, which he had built (1908) and were beaten bloody by his followers.

He was accused above all of being a “pseudo nationalist,” wavering in his political views and being two faced in his Zionistic position, further, assigning people, who in the eyes of the leader of the national movement were not suitable, to various

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organizations as well as a poor choice of fellow workers and last but not least placing a bronze bust of himself in the vestibule of the National House.

Straucher reacted with the publication of his own weekly newspaper, the “Peoples Defense.”

The fight became personal and was waged by both sides in an ugly manner.

The boiling point in this internal Jewish political fight was reached in 1910, when the Zionists outside of Bukovina stepped in on Straucher's side.

The Zionist organization in Bukovina met the attack on Prof. Kellner with an article in the “Vienna Jewish Newspaper,” and declared itself for Dr. Kellner.

Meanwhile, the election for the Regional Parliament approached.

In 1909, the Regional Parliament wrote a new set of laws regarding the election of members to the body according to which the parliament would consist of 63 members as follows:

) The Greek Oriental Archbishop and the Metropolitan from Chernivtsi
) The Rector of the University.
) 61 elected members
( 13 representatives from the large estate owners
( 2 representatives from the Chamber of Trade and Commerce
( 28 representatives from the communities who would be elected in 5 national curiae (Romanian, Ruthenes, German, Polish and Jewish)
( 18 representatives of the general voting curiae, who would also be elected in 5 national curiae.
In this plan which was approved unanimously, the Jews were recognized as a nation.

Because of the opposition and subversive activities of the assimilated Jews in the Vienna parliament, the Galician Poles and the Germans of the Monarchy who saw in the plan, a danger to their national political position in Galicia and Bohemia, the plan was subverted and the central government refused to recognize the Jews as a nationality and instead, lumped the Jewish population against their will together with the Germans. The Regional Parliament finally caved in and instead of 5 national voting bodies, designated 4.

But in order to prevent the non-Jewish Germans from becoming a majority, in these districts, restrictions were introduced74.

Of the 13 representatives allotted the large estate owners, 8 were awarded to the Jews (§ 3,I)75)

Both seats for the Chamber of Trade and Commerce (§3, II) were given to the Jews because of their leading position in business.

The 28 seats for the communities (§ 3, III)were divided as follows:

10 for the Romanians
10 for the Ruthenes
7 for the Germans (with Jews included)
1 for the Polish national curiae.
The 18 seats (§ 3, IV) for the general voter class were divided as follows:
6 for the Romanians
6 for the Ruthenes
5 for the Germans (Jews included)
1 for the Poles
At the following Regional Parliament election, in 1911, the People's Council fought the Straucher party and ran Professor Dr. Leon Kellner and dr. Max Fokschaner.

The Jews captured 10 seats (8 for Straucher and 2 for the Peoples Council). To be specific, 2 from the large estate owner, 2 from the Chamber of Trade and Commerce, and 6 in the general voting curiae (Straucher). In total, 8 from the list of the Jewish National party and 2 Peoples Council.

The elected legislators, Josef Blum, Jancu Fischer, Dr. Max Fokschaner, Jakob Hecht, Dr. Isidor Katz, Prof. Dr. Leon Kellner, Salomon Rudich, Dr. Benno Straucher, Dr. Salo Weisselberger and Dr. Neumann Wender comprised a Jewish “parliamentary club,” and got a representative in the Regional Committee in the person of Dr. Neumann Wender.

In its first session, the Regional Parliament decided to deal with the Jews as a nation.

In 1911, elections were held for the Reichsrat.

Of the 516 seats, Bukovina with 300,098 inhabitants was allocated 14 seats.

These 14 seats were distributed on a population basis as follows:

305,110 Ruthenes 5 seats
273,254 Romanians 5 seats
102,900 Jews 2 seats
65,951 Germans 2 Seats
No seats were assigned to the 36,102 Poles and the 16,391 Magyars.

The People's Council didn't take part in these elections in order to avoid a fragmentation of the party.

In Chernivtsi, Dr. Straucher was elected, but in Siret and Suceava, two Jewish candidates ran (Docent Dr. Arthur Mahler and Luzian Brunner) ran causing a split of the Jewish vote and leading to the election of a Christian Socialist.

In the city council election in Chernivtsi in 1912, the People's Council ran Dr. Mayer Ebner and Adolf Wallstein who won against Straucher's candidates

In 1913, a Jewish mayor, Dr. Salo von Weisselberger was elected.

Even after the election, the internal fighting still raged between Dr. Straucher and the People's Council..

Only the shot fired in Sarajevo and the First World War interrupted this political fraternal fighting.

On the Jewish horizon appeared signs of the approaching world war.

Troubled times were approaching for the Jews of Bukovina.

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Translators Endnotes

PP jluj: A very bright student of torah. Return

QQ Ruthenian: A race that constituted 38% of the population of Bukovina. Return

RR Makkabaeer-Tische-b'Aw-Trauerfeiern: Possibly a memorial of the destruction of the temples in Jerusalem. Return

SS Burschenschaften: Dueling societies in German universities. Return

TT Realpolitik: Politics based on practical and material factors rather than on theoretical or ethical objectives. Return

UU School where students learn Talmud and Torah. Return


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